The reason you have difficulty realizing an enlightened state is because you see it as some high-level guru-inspired nirvana-achievement. It’s something special. Something you don’t normally do. But that’s the trick—you do do it all the time. You just don’t account for it.
You hit some super long putt, or a free throw in basketball or a wrist shot in hockey—and you know know know you’ve scored the moment it leaves your control. Sometimes you’re busy doing something mundane and you look up and you can’t believe how much time has passed. Or when you were just enjoying yourself so much that you felt entirely secure and therefore your ego had no reason to perform. In each of those cases you were in an enlightened state.
In those cases you’ll note that you weren’t investing much or any energy on creating a you. Instead you were busy taking in the world. You were an input aspect of the universe, not an output aspect. You were enjoying the universe itself. And that can take all forms. You can be mesmerized and thoroughly absorbed by baby pandas, and you can be just as riveted by a pride of lions taking down a baby gazelle. One thing is cute and one thing is natural but very harsh, and yet both experiences are equal in that they are fully engaging; meaning they leave us with no space to insert our egos. There is a great lesson in this. To improve your daily life, you simply have to apply this same response to less compelling aspects of life. Stop reserving this skill for mountain-top sunsets and baby animals. Start using this with frustrating co-workers and stressed spouses. Because even those things are ultimately not about you.
Accept that there will be days when people who are usually reasonable will suddenly be difficult. This is not the secret-them coming out. This is not some gross miscalculation of character on your part. This is normal human existence. How’s our diet? How about sleep? Are there challenging and unavoidable things going on in life and how good are your support systems? These are things that will impact a person’s reactions, not to mention big shifts in hormone changes that can be the result of everything from bodybuilding drugs to puberty, to menstrual cycles and menopause and changes resulting from drugs or diseases and their treatments. There’s a lot of reasons for all of us to occasionally get snippy. We’re better to learn not to be so quick to judge. Watch people over the long term. That’s the closest thing you could call who they are.
The world isn’t perfect when everyone’s unnaturally polite. The world’s perfect when everyone is compassionate enough to let themselves and everyone else be a fully realized human being leading a full and rich life. Because even the greatest life includes frustration and agony and doubt and struggle. So we must let those moments be. Those are merely clouds hovering over the landscape of our life. They only obscure the sun. They do not actually make it go away. All we have to do is wait and when we see rays shining through up ahead, we must set that course as our destination. Because it is by moving toward the light, that we realize our own path through life.
Accept not everything feels good, then as soon as possible move toward what does feel good. That’s pretty much the whole secret to life in a nutshell. Go for it.
Following a childhood accident should have left him dead, Scott McPherson spent his life meditating on thought, consciousness, reality and the self. Seeing the emotional damage done by ego-based overthinking he began dedicating a part of his life to guiding students toward more peaceful and rewarding lives. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, Canada.